Hundreds Gather in Warsaw to Commemorate Doctors, Nurses Who Helped Ghetto

The march began Friday at the monument at the Umschlagplatz, the square where Jews during the German occupation were gathered for deportation to the Treblinka extermination camp.

Bundesarchiv via Wikimedia Commons

Some 700 people marched through the streets of Warsaw to remember the doctors, nurses and other health care workers who gave aid to Jewish ghetto residents during the World War II era.

The march began Friday at the monument at the Umschlagplatz, the square where Jews during the German occupation were gathered for deportation to the Treblinka extermination camp.

“This year we go there where the doctors and the medical service of the Warsaw Ghetto worked, the Bersohn and Bauman Children’s Hospital,” said Pawel Spiewak, director of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. “We’re walking there to show that we remember those sacrifices that were completely helpless, powerless in the face of what happened then in Warsaw.”

At the hospital building, march participants hung on its fence ribbons with the names of victims of the liquidation of the ghetto. Piotr Glowacki, an acclaimed actor in Poland, read excerpts from the testimonies of ghetto nurses and doctors. He was accompanied by musician Olgierd Dokalski.

Bersohn and Bauman Children’s Hospital was founded in 1878 and operated until 1942. Before World War I, Janusz Korczak, who ran an orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto for Jewish children during World War II and died with them, was a pediatrician there.

The hospital was located in the ghetto. Doctors tried to help the children, although they had limited options. Some doctors could not come to terms with the fact that their patients would be murdered in Treblinka. Children were given morphine to die in their beds and avoid transport to death camps.

At the commemoration, Israel’s deputy ambassador to Poland, Ruth Cohen-Dar, said: “We are gathered here to remember the names of our sisters and brothers who were killed in the largest genocide of contemporary humanity. We are here to remember each one of them.”